Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book 6: Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

I'm back! I'm so sorry to have disappeared for so long, but I'll be back more regularly now. I moved, had a virtual book tour (for my novel Aureole, if you hadn't already heard), and then had a minor procedure on my knee. But I'm back, and we're returning with another Percy Jackson book. Did I mention that I love them?

Book 6:
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan

Per usual, Percy Jackson is just trying his best to attend orientation for a new school when he fights with monsters and destroys part of his new school. Kid can’t seem to catch a break! But, of course, it was just the beginning of his adventures. After escaping the school, Percy heads to Camp Half-Blood, where everyone is in the midst of preparation for the struggles that lay before them. Percy meets a new member of the staff, Quintus, the new sword master. Then, during a battle drill, Percy and Annabeth accidentally discover an entrance into the Labryinth. The Labryinth is the one created by Daedalus to hold the Minotaur, but over the years has kept growing and now stretches across large parts of the world. It turns out that Luke is planning to lead an army through the entrance discovered by Percy and Annabeth to attack the camp.

They realize that they have to use the Labryinth to find Daedalus to ensure that Luke doesn’t find Ariadne’s string, which would help him navigate the extremely confusing maze and make it to the camp. Annabeth receives a prophecy, and they set off with Grover and Tyson, too. Over the course of their adventures, they interact with Nico, the teenage son of Hades who still blames Percy for the death of his sister. Percy and Annabeth also end up splitting up with Grover and Tyson, who go off to search for the god Pan. Percy and Annabeth go to Mount St. Helens, where they find the telekhines – “sea demons – who attack them. Before Percy causes Mt. St. Helens to erupt, he and Annabeth have an argument, leading her to kiss him before fleeing. The eruption pushes him out of the volcano, but also drains his energy.

When he wakes up, he is on the magical island maintained by Calypso. She treats his wounds, but he decides to leave and return to the world that needs him. Then he once again meets up with Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the mortal girl who can see through the Mist and therefore can help him make it through the Labryinth. The meet up with Grover, who has found Pan, but Pan is dying, and he asks them to spread the word that he has died. Once he does, his spirit passes into all present, especially Grover. They finally find Daedalus, who actually is Quintus, and they also learn that Kronos has gained enough strength by Luke. Unfortuatnely, Luke has already found Daedalus and gotten Ariadne’s string, and he sends an army to destroy Camp Half-Blood.

The camp fights a losing battle, and most of them are either injured or killed. But then Daedalus and Briares – Tyson’s hero who they met from their Labryinth journey – arrive. Finally, what turns the battle around is Grover scaring away the enemy using Pan’s power Panic. But even though their enemies have left, there is still the threat of the Labryinth, and Daidalus sacrifices himself to close it, as it is tied to his life.

To close the book off, the camp says good-bye to those who have died. Nico leaves, Grover leaves to spread the message of Pan, and Percy returns to his mother’s to celebrate his fifteenth birthday. There, Nico arrives with an idea on how to defeat Kronos. 

Use of Myths:
Like in the past Percy Jackson books, the hero’s journey plays a very clear role in the novel. Only one component is missing in this particular novel, which is Acquiring a Mentor. At this point in the series, Percy has grown enough that when he is with his helpers/friends that he does not seem to demonstrate a strong need for a mentor, so it makes sense that he does not have one here. The other difference between the hero’s journey in this novel verses in other ones is that the atonement and receiving the gift of the goddess are reversed. Before Daedalus/Quintus gives up his life to Nico, he gives his computer and all of his ideas and plans to Annabeth, but it is not until after that when the camp demonstrates the loss of those who died in the battle. Otherwise, though, the hero’s journey is followed fairly strictly.

Call to Adventure
Annabeth shows up at Percy’s new school just in time to see him escaping after evil cheerleaders (really empousas, servants of Hecate) and burn part of the school
Supernatural Aid
Percy meets Quintus, who is helping out at the camp, and his pet the hellhound Mrs. O’Leary. Quintus later gives Percy a special whistle, which later saves his life.
Annabeth receives the quest. Annabeth, Percy, Grover, and Tyson leave and go down into the labyrinth on the quest.
Acquires a Helper
Hera meets them in the labyrinth.
Experiences challenges and temptations
The journey in the labyrinth
Meets another helper
Rachel Elizabeth Dare joins them and leads them through the correct path
Has a Great Revelation at the Abyss (Death/Rebirth)
Discovery of Pan and the realization that he is dead/dying and it is their journey to spread the news
Goes Through a Transformation
Return to Camp Half-Blood, where there is a battle, and where Grover summons the power of Pan that ends the battle
Receives the Gift of the Goddess (…kinda)
Daedalus/Quintus gives Annabeth his computer with all of his information and designs on it
Camp Half-Blood holds funerals for those killed in the battle
Percy returns to New York City and has his birthday party

Some of the archetypes present are the hero, villain, mother/father figure, and underdog. Percy is the hero, as he has been in the other novels in the series. Like in the other books, he puts himself above others. The villain is still Kronos, helped by Luke. Percy only sees Kronos in dreams, but he does meet Luke face-to-face at one point. In the arena, Luke employs cunning to try and trick Percy into dying in his fight with Percy’s brother, Antaeus.

The underdog is Grover, as he is at odds with the Council of Cloven Elders throughout the entire novel. From the beginning, he is in trouble because he has not found Pan yet, and then when he does find Pan and deliver the message that he is dead, they don’t believe him. The reader wants him to succeed, especially because his situation is like any child trying to prove that something that sounds ridiculous is true. In the end, the Council is disbanded, and Grover summons panic, the power of the god Pan, which earns his respect from everyone who heard it happen.

The mother figure in this novel is actually Annabeth. It is her quest, and she guides the others throughout. She doesn’t necessarily care for them, though, which would going along with the traditional mother figure, and she also doesn’t protect them, although she fights with them. Annabeth has some components of the mother figure, but not all of them, and some of the father figure, but she also doesn’t have all of those, either. She fills an intertwined role, instead.

Another component of myths in the novel is the allusions and involvement of the number three. Chiron points out that “Three is a sacred number. There are three Fates, three Furies, three Olympian sons of Kronos. It is a good strong number that stands against many dangers.” In this case, Chiron is talking about the people that are about to go on Annabeth’s quest. But three reappears a few times: the fact that Mr. Geryon from Triple G Ranch has three bodies (hence the name) and talking about the Trident of Poseidon, for example. Three has also played a part in other Percy Jackson books – when Percy went on the quest in The Titan’s Curse, 5 people left but only 3 came back. Numbers of all kinds play roles in mythology of all cultures, but this is the first case that is has been directly addressed in the Percy Jackson books.

As this is the fourth book in the series, The Battle of the Labyrinth clearly connects to some other books I have read so far. After the complexity and difference of East, though, it was nice to return to Percy and this particular use of Greek mythology that Riordan’s books demonstrate.

No review this time. I love this book. And this series. That’s all that really needs to be said.


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